CHENNAI: How often does a visiting team player draw the loudest cheers in an ‘A’ match? In a rare occurrence, a touring side member struck a special connection with the crowd while fielding, so much so that the fans pleaded with the captain to bring him closer to the spectators whenever he moved away from the stands which were open for the public.
The hero of the scene was New Zealand A’s Tom Bruce, who was in action against India A in the second one-dayer at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday. The experienced Kiwi batter continued to receive love from the Chepauk galleries, in the third and final match at the same venue on Tuesday.
Bruce, in a chat with this reporter after the conclusion of the series, told DT Next that the experience would stay with him forever. “It was pretty special to hear the crowd chant my name. I will remember the moments for the rest of my life. It will hold a special place in my cricket career,” said the 31-year-old Bruce, who has turned out for ‘Black Caps’ in 17 T20Is.
“It was awesome to play in front of such a crowd. We do not get this fanfare in New Zealand. Playing in front of a crowd that supports good cricket is always special. The entire New Zealand A team will remember it (the series),” added Bruce.
Asked how he became an instant fan favourite, Bruce revealed: “[In the second match], I was on the boundary, standing close to the fence. The fans started chanting ‘Bruce’. Every time they chanted my name, I turned and waved at them with a smile. It just continued. The fans were enjoying it and the chants only got louder. We had a lot of fun out there; I enjoyed myself. The fans certainly made it a lot easier for us to be out there.”
On swapping positions with another fielder to “oblige to the crowd’s wish” in the penultimate match, Bruce said: “Initially, it just so happened that I moved away from the fans. They started chanting ‘we want Bruce’. Our captain Robbie (Robert O’ Donnell) obliged. It happened twice in the game and we were happy to do that.”
New Zealand was whitewashed 0-3, but Bruce loved every bit of the series. “We are not ready to go home. The tour was awesome,” signed off Bruce.